Rivalry in focus: Back row
With the 150th anniversary 1872 Cup clash against Glasgow Warriors at BT Murrayfield fast approaching (30 December, kick-off 7.35pm), we’re taking a closer look at the positional groups from both sides of the M8 as Scotland’s international stars come together for the Autumn Nations Series.
With the likes of club co-captain Jamie Ritchie and Warriors’ Matt Fagerson linking up in Scotland’s back-row, we analyse three back-row stars from both sides of the rivalry that could lock horns in world rugby’s oldest intercity derby this December.
Tickets for the unmissable deciding leg of the derby – which takes place at BT Murrayfield on Friday 30 December – are now on public sale! Click here to get your tickets.
The all-action back-row was announced as Scotland captain ahead of the Autumn Nations Series, following on from being named Edinburgh Rugby club co-captain alongside Grant Grant Gilchrist earlier this month.
Ritchie – who can operate across the back-row – has started the season in impressive fashion after recovering from a hamstring injury that kept him out of most of the 21/22 season.
The abrasive ball carrier – who is always a threat over the ball – started Edinburgh’s opening three BKT URC matches and put in an impressive shift in back-to-back clashes on South African soil.
The British and Irish Lions star is a man for the big occasion and Watson has been right back in the thick of it for both club and country so far this season.
The Edinburgh Rugby centurion has missed just a single tackle in the BKT URC so far this season and will relishing the opportunity to once again go up against his Scotland teammates when Glasgow visit the capital in late December.
There aren’t many players as consistent as Luke Crosbie and the back-row is playing some of his best rugby right now in the blue and burnt orange of Edinburgh Rugby.
Skippering his hometown club while Ritchie and Grant Gilchrist are on international duty, the back-row has helped Edinburgh secure back-to-back road wins against Zebre Parma and Cardiff, while Crosbie has added a further two tries to his tally in the month of October.
Fagerson has become a mainstay in the number 8 jersey for both Scotland and Glasgow, and will start alongside Watson and Ritchie in the backrow against Fiji this weekend. Reliable under the high ball, with strong carrying and nimble footwork, the back rower is a handful for opposition defences.
With 25 Scotland caps to date, he is also the country’s youngest ever number 8 to date (at 19y 335d).
Dempsey arrived at Scotstoun with the reputation of being a destructive ball carrier, and he has more than lived up to the billing. A year on from his arrival, the number eight has made his Test debut for Scotland, and furthered his notoriety as one of the league’s strongest runners.
A player who that Edinburgh fans will be incredibly familiar with. A double centurion for club, and half-centurion for country, Wilson has been a mainstay in 1872 fixtures since 2010.
A confrontational character on the pitch, Wilson is always likely to bring fireworks and spark a game into life.